You just need to walk down the cleaning aisle of any supermarket and you can smell the chemicals. The heavy artificial fragrances can be quite overwhelming, not to mention the hidden nasties behind all the labels.
Many of these household cleaning products contain an extensive list of known toxins, carcinogens, asthma triggers, and irritants. Despite this, people continue to buy them presuming they work better than alternatives. They are also accustomed to the heavy fragrance used to make their home smell clean.
The ingredients commonly used in these products can have negative health effects. These can be short and long term depending on the level of exposure and isn’t isolated only to the people who use them. It can include household members who aren’t directly exposed like children and pets.
There is a solution to this that is easy, cost effective and a healthier alternative. Make your own using natural, eco-friendly ingredients. Your house will be just as clean without exposing anyone to harmful chemicals.
You only need a few ingredients to give your house a good clean and keep it smelling fresh. Most of these are readily available and it is likely you already have some of them on hand.
Here’s a list of the best natural cleaners and the only ones you’ll ever need to keep your home naturally spotless.
One of the most effective and inexpensive cleaners you can use is vinegar. Either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be used with the main differences being price and smell. White vinegar is a great budget option, but does have a stronger smell.
Vinegar serves as a multipurpose cleaner and can be diluted or used full strength in a range of recipes.
The acetic acid in vinegar makes it strongly antibacterial and antifungal. As a result, it is a great disinfectant and can be used to fight or prevent mildew.
It also works well to remove stains from rugs, carpets and furniture. Clean up spills immediately and dampen the area with a cloth mixed with white vinegar and warm water.
Although it can have a strong odor, it still works well to neutralize other strong odors that can be hard to get rid of. To help deodorize areas around the house add some fresh lemon juice to vinegar and water in a spray bottle. This is particularly good for diaper bins, trash containers and toilets.
Known by a few different names, baking soda is a must have in your natural cleaning arsenal. It is also known as bicarbonate of soda, bicarb soda or sodium bicarbonate.
Baking soda is a mild abrasive ideal for cleaning tough surface stains and caked on greasy residue on pots and pans. Similarly, it is great for cleaning baked on residue on the stove top and oven.
When using it as an abrasive, sprinkle the baking soda on the area then spray with vinegar and/or lemon juice. Allow it to ‘fizz’ then scrub lightly (if really baked on) and wipe clean.
Baking soda also acts as a powerful deodorizer when sprinkled in trash containers and laundry hampers. Another great idea is to place an open box in the refrigerator to absorb unwanted smells.
Any type of salt can be used but additive free options like unrefined sea salt, canning salt or kosher salts are ideal. These don’t have any anti-caking agents and are therefore more eco-friendly.
A few simple ways to use salt include:
- Soak clothes in a solution of saltwater to remove perspiration stains
- Scrub the insides of mugs with salt to remove tea and coffee stains
- Use half a lemon dipped in salt to remove stains from cutting boards. This can also be used to remove lime buildup and rust stains from sinks and faucets.
It is made strictly from vegetable fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil and almond oil. Because of this, it is a high quality soap that is gentle on all skin types. It is also biodegradable – the perfect ‘green’ cleaner.
It is important to note that castile soap doesn’t ‘sud up’ like commercial, synthetic soaps. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t working! Often those suds are from unnecessary sudsing agents that aren’t actually doing any cleaning.
A natural mineral, borax (or sodium borate) has properties that make it a terrific natural cleaner. It disinfects, acts as a laundry booster, fungicide and multipurpose cleaner. Be careful not to confuse it with boric acid – they are different and not interchangeable.
When using borax it is important to keep in mind that it is a strongly alkaline substance and can cause skin and respiratory tract irritation. Store it out of reach of children, use in a well ventilated space with gloves and a face mask, and don’t use it around food.
Borax is particularly good at fighting mold and mildew.
There are a selection of essential oils that can add a lot to your cleaning routine. Not only will they bring a nice smell, but these oils have some of the following properties – antibacterial, antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral.
The most useful essential oils to include in your cleaning arsenal are:
Lavender – antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral
Lemon – antimicrobial, antiseptic, antibacterial
Tea Tree – antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial
Eucalyptus – antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral
When using essential oils for cleaning, add them to other ingredients or dilute as necessary. They are powerful so only a small amount is needed for each application.
Using the best natural cleaners listed above for your home is not only an eco-friendly option, it will also save you money and result in a healthier living environment. And a spotlessly clean home with less chemicals, synthetics and toxins can only be a good thing for you and your family.